Cardiff Football Club came into being at a meeting at the town’s Evans Oval Soccer Hall on 14th November 1967. The club, which was the collective brainchild of a group of ex-pupils of the local High School, fielded a team in the Newcastle Australian Football League’s reserve grade competition in 1968-9 before being accorded full senior status in 1970.
After struggling to hold its own at first, Cardiff gradually improved, and in 1974 the side contested its first senior grand final, losing to RAAF. In 1979, under the coaching of former Glenelg champion Neil Davies, the Hawks went top for the first time, overcoming the setback of a major semi final loss to Newcastle City to turn the tables on the same opponent three weeks later in the grand final. The reason for the three week gap was that Cardiff needed a replay to dispense with the preliminary final challenge of Western Suburbs.
Under Davies’s replacement as coach, Mick Storck, Cardiff enjoyed arguably the greatest season in its history to date in 1980 when it captured the premiership undefeated. The ensuing couple of seasons brought losing grand finals against Newcastle City and Western Suburbs, but there then followed a prolonged period of decline, which was only arrested when Andrew Larkin was appointed senior coach in 1997. Under Larkin, the Hawks contested the next three grand finals, losing the first and last of these by narrow margins, but winning in conclusive fashion in 1998 to seal another undefeated premiership.
The 2000 season saw a restructuring of football in the region with the Newcastle and Central AFL competitions merging to form the Black Diamond AFL. Initially at least, Cardiff was easily the league’s most successful club, contesting no fewer than eight of the first nine grand finals, for victories in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006. The winning habit subsequently eluded them, however, and starting in 2008 they endured the rare indignity of losing five consecutive grand finals, the first four to Newcastle City, and the last to Terrigal Avoca. More recently, they qualified for the 2017 grand final but went down by 9 points to Terrigal Avoca. They followed this up with consecutive third place finishes in 2018 and 2019. The 2020 season brought a comparative fall from grace as a tally of five wins and a draw from 12 matches saw them slump to sixth place.
John Devaney - Full Points Publications